“We can see in Gaul a distant ancestor of our globalization”

Born in 1947, former professor at Paris-XIII University and Sciences Po, former advisor to Michel Rocard at Matignon (1988-1991) and member of the Circle of Economists, Jacques Mistral is the author of The Science of Wealth. Essay on the construction of economic thought (Gallimard, 2019). The first volume of his Economy and politics in France (Gallimard, 368 pages, 25 euros), which will include two, has just been released.

What is your intention with this investigation of which you are publishing the first part?

I’m an academic economist, but I’ve also been a policy advisor and had a corporate career. All this made me sensitive to the permanent interactions between economics and politics. François Mitterrand wanted to assert the primacy of politics over economics, and this is what made him win in 1981.

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Michel Rocard, for his part, considered not that economics should prevail over politics, but that a policy was needed that gave itself the economic means to succeed. This is what appeared during the turning point in austerity in 1983. This interference does not only concern moments of crisis, it is daily at all levels, and current events constantly urge us to think about these two levels at the same time. analysis. However, I realized that there was no general work, of the “manual” type, to reflect on the interactions between these two fields over the long term.

You use the notion of “political economy regime” on numerous occasions. What do you mean by this term?

For me it was about escaping two pitfalls, two forms of determinism by which we would like to explain everything, either through economics or through politics. I sought to identify historical moments of compromise and mutual reinforcement between these different dynamics, or on the contrary of strong tension between them. Economic activity, whether we imagine it as a circuit, like Keynes, or as a market, like Walras, supposes following a certain rationality.

But at the time considered in this book, this was not formulated by a more or less esoteric economic science which either did not yet exist or had little influence. The political economy regimes envisaged in the book corresponded more to common sense reasoning for the elites of the time.

Why, in the era of global history, have we adopted a geographical and chronological framework which focuses on metropolitan France and begins with Roman Gaul?

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